Posts Tagged 'Brooklyn'

Green June in July

Cotinus nitidaI saw this flying fairly low and slow, and waited a while to see if it would land. Waiting may be the essence of natural history observation. As it flew, my thought process was thus: too small for a cicada, too wide for a wasp. Once it landed, Japanese Beetle came to mind; but although similar, this is larger, and lacks the grooved elytra and the tufty bristles of that pest. This turned out to be the Green June Beetle (Cotinus nitida). Another foot soldier in the empire of beetles, the true earthlings (the rest of us just live here, wantonly slaughtering everything that moves). The Latin nitida means shiny, bright, handsome. Cotinus nitidaSeveral days later, I found another in a different borough.

Crawly

Papilio glaucusOne must really keep the eyes peeled and rolling in a fine frenzy. Look out! Down on the sidewalk, a little under 1.5″ long, easily mistaken for a turd or cigarillo butt. Papilio glaucusBut, actually, it’s the larva of the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus), that gloriously large yellow and black butterfly. Early instars, or stages, of this caterpillar look like bird droppings (that old camouflage trick!); the last before pupation will look like this, complete with the false eyespots, but be a vivid green. Tuliptree, magnolia, and black cherry are among the food plants for this species; this was next to a Tuliptree (Liriodendron tulipifera), which is an unusual street tree here. Like all caterpillars, it is a machine for eating, powering up for the biochemical alchemy of metamorphosis. Papilio glaucusShazam! I mean, shit into gold, the alchemical dream right here.

Freshwater

Perithemis teneraI was enjoying the life above the Duckweed (Lemnaceae) recently, marveling that I’ve never seen so many Eastern Amberwings (Perithemis tenera).Pachydiplax longipennisThere were also a few Blue Dashers (Pachydiplax longipennis), making more Blue Dashers.A damselfly of unknown provenance was depositing eggs.

And then, along the edge of the lake, some disturbance from below. There was an agitated simmering, not quite bubbling. I wondered what it might be. Then, rising, a mass of little black fish, tightly clumped together at the surface, swarming over each other, some half out of the water momentarily. They were feasting on something. fish The individual fish visible on the edges of this mass had serious whiskers, barbels, making me think of some kind of catfish. What the hell, I took the plunge.fishI’m taking a semi-wild guess that these are Black Bullheads (Ameiurus melas); what do you think?fishThe barbels are flush to the sides here.LemnaceaeAs an added benefit of my open-handed catch and release, the underside of the Duckweed, some of the smallest flowering plants anywhere, is revealed as purple.

Morning Stretch

IMG_5694Upward-facing turtle, with a keen eye on the photographer.

Flying Now

Vanessa carduiPainted Lady (Vanessa cardui). I’ve posted previously about separating these from the similar American Lady butterflies (Vanessa virginiensis); from this view, the four big wing spots mark the Painted; two big spots the American.Enallagma signatumOrange Bluet (Enallagma signatum) male. Small and slender, but striking when you see it: at Green-Wood’s Sylvan Water. Enallagma signatumAt the nearby Valley Water, the Orange Bluets were mating. Anax juniusCommon Green Darners (Anax junius) were also reproducing there. Here the male continues to hold the female as she deposits eggs. I have seen females of the species depositing eggs on her own, sans the grip.ThorybesNorthern Cloudywing (Thorybes pylades). Enallagama civileI wish there was a special place in hell for the people who just toss their butts any- and everywhere (take a look down street gratings some day). This Familiar Bluet (Enallagama civile) male seems to be less censorious. CercerisA couple of Cerceris genus wasps were hanging out on some rogue squash plants on the edge of the Long Meadow.Pholisora catullusCommon Sootywing (Pholisora catullus) hitting the light just right on pollinator-magnet Buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis).

Brooklyn’s Two-Spotted Continue

Two years ago, I stumbled upon some unfamiliar ladybugs. There were Two-spotted (Adalia bipunctata), which turned out to be rather rare. It was the first Brooklyn report for the species. Last summer, the site was inaccessible to civilians because of construction. This weekend I took a look at the trees, as I usually do. They have been quite active with Multicolored Asian Ladybugs (Harmonia axyridis) for the last couple of weeks. But hello! Something different from the very round, very large (for a ladybug) H. axyridis, a nuisance species, if not worse, spread by gardeners and garden-suppliers. Indeed, many think the spread of these beetles has been the cause, or one of the causes, of the decline of the likes of A. bipunctata and other now rare native species. Adalia bipunctataBut the Two-spotted is still in town. Adalia bipunctataWhile trying to get a live photo, the beetle flew down to my camera lens, so I snapped this pic with my phone.

From the Lost Lady Project, I’ve learned that A. bipunctata has been reported at four New York State sites. Like many native species, it has been declining in numbers for the last twenty years or more. The location here is tiny, just a few trees, and isolated from other bits of green. It shows the importance of having a variety of trees and plants in as many places as possible. But this location is much busier with humans than it used to be…

Only three other places in New York! This isn’t to say there aren’t more places, which haven’t been discovered because there aren’t as many people looking for lady beetles as, say, there are people enabling FIFA’s looting, and/or staring at their toenails, but it does suggest their specialness. Adalia bipunctataSpeaking of nails. The Two-spotted comes in a variety of color forms. This one, found at the same time, is particularly striking.

All Gape

nestlingI spotted this nestling, a bird still too young for its eyes to have opened, earlier today. This is probably an American Robin, and would seem to be a second brood for the season. In early spring, birds this young need to worry about being too cold. That wasn’t an issue in today’s tropical, pre-hurricane atmosphere.

Herons

heronsGreat Egret (Ardea alba) and Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) aligned in Woodlawn. The Great Egret was quite vocal when it flew: a guttural barking. No songbirds these. Note that these two birds are in the same genus: “egret” and “heron” are basically synonyms; the Latin “ardea” means “heron.”Ardea albaIn Green-Wood. The correspondence between the white feathers and white petals of the water lilies, the yellow bill of the bird and the yellow centers of the flowers, gave me much to contemplate. gbhThe Great Blue a little later, when I turned around and saw its silhouette away up there.

Local edibles

Rheum rhabarbarumI’ve eaten a lot of rhubarb in my time, usually with strawberries. I’ve never seen it gone to seed, though, before now. Rheum rhabarbarum.Ribes rubrumIn the same community garden, Red Currants! Ribes rubrum.Vaccinium corymbosumElsewhere in the borough, High-bush Blueberry, almost ripe! Unfortunately, gleaners usually pick these too soon, cheating themselves (and me!). Vaccinium corymbosum.

More Sumac

Rhus typhinaStaghorn Sumac (Rhus typhina) in exuberant fuzziness.


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